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C.G. Jung Speaking

[Carl Jung on Good and Evil]

We can only speak of the relativity of good and evil in individual cases.

The categories of good and evil cannot be suspended; they are continually alive and cannot be attached to material things.

Evil is that which obstructs meaningful vitality.

It may show itself differently in each case.

That which is above by reason of its charity, suppresses that, which is below; then the lower craves what is above.

In the Middle Ages the flight to the spiritual world was still necessary.

It was meaningful then to want to live spiritually and give little attention to the material, for meaning was directed towards the spirit.

But it is meaningful today to want to descend with dignity to the chthonic world.

He who wishes to take the Kingdom of Heaven by storm, to conquer and eradicate evil by force, is already in the hands of evil.

The problem that is central and closest to our hearts already contains the lurking danger of evil.

We must therefore beware of impetuous decisions and enthusiastic radical attitudes.

We should hope, very quietly, that things will turn out right in the end.

The Devil can grab hold of the best and most beautiful act and use it as a trick to corrupt man whenever man wants to establish good by force.

This is brilliantly illustrated in Aldous Huxley’s “Grey Eminence.

In spite of His Eminence’s life of prayer, asceticism and personal chastity, the Devil caught him at the moment of his highest service.

At the very moment that someone believes he must undertake a mission, the Devil has him in his claws.

The opposites are indeed very close together.

In the subterranean mandala the fire is at the centre.

It stands for evil and the Devil and, at the same time, the most sacred, the Holy Spirit, the ignis sapienta.

The idea that Lucifer was the most beautiful of the angels also comes from the centre.

The Christian God is God the Father, God the only begotten son, and the Holy Spirit.

But three qualities are not sufficient to determine the world. One part is left out: Evil, or the Devil.

The remedy lies in the fourth part. The Holy Spirit has to come into contact with the material world and beget; He is the new Yahweh standing on the third step. •Satan
unlike Christ, was created, not begotten.

When I create I am free and not dependent.

We talk of the ambivalence of evil, but the real question is whether an apparent evil is ever a hundred per cent bad.

We see again and again that what is morally repulsive can have moral qualities and sometimes lead to good ends.

Evil can be either a dazzling or a repellent example for virtue.

We might ask, “Has the unconscious arranged it like this because it knows that in no other way, without this detour into evil, can any good be accomplished?”

A similar situation occurs in the case of the good; we see what often happens to good intentions.

A generous father raises a wastrel of a son. Giving a beggar some money may be the cause of his never working again.

I often have to say to an anxious mother, “It is your damned love and anxiety that are preventing your children from ever growing up”

Those who are always on the look out to do charitable works serve virtue out of their moral cowardice and fall into the worst depravity.

They are really in the depths; they never do evil themselves but force those in their immediate surroundings to commit evil.

Even the Church speaks of felix culpa.

Christ said of Peter who disavowed him, “On this rock I will build my Church.”

It is a psychological fact that someone who is disloyal or a liar can be capable of uttering the truth to an extent that we cannot fore see.

When the phenomena of guilt appear we have to ask, “What have I done?”

Yet often we have done nothing but avoided a duty .

Not doing something can arouse guilt even when there is no sin and no wicked deed in evidence.

To evade action is really to bury one’s talents.

He who is most guilty is most innocent; the most holy man is the one most conscious of his sin.

Sin is considered to be the opposition of the human will to the Divine will. It is also said to be unavoidable, and there are many examples through the centuries that
attest to this.

But if we think that God were responsible for the original sin, there would be no more mystery about sin.

Adam and Eve would indeed have been inadequate people if they had not noticed which tree the right apples grew on.

Man is never by himself; there are always two.

His will is always crossed by a good and a bad desire which unfortunately cannot be combined.

But who says they are not both the same? Our human criteria of good and evil are open to criticism.

Good can grow out of evil and out of good can come evil.

All these considerations show us that we need to revise the Christian conception of God.

The Book of Job could foreshadow a revision.

In the Christian image of God, evil is split off and personified by Satan; in our conception of God only the summum bonum is represented.

Job did not have to suffer for his sins as his friends thought; it was rather that God required Job to look at His dark side as well.

I could unite the opposites good and evil if I could say, “The right is as wrong as the wrong is right.

“Unfortunately good and evil are separate and we are unable to see the whole.

We ought to be as detached from good as we are from evil but this is not practically possible.

At best we can have an idea of this and each of us can ask, “Where am I wrong? Where am I at odds with myself?”

We can seek unity within, not only in our own persons, but also vicariously in the realm of politics — in the great conflict represented by America and Russia, for instance.

If someone has experienced too much evil he has to seek compensation.

Someone who has experienced too much evil instinctively wants to cut himself off from it.

Indeed there are some experiences that cannot be conquered because they have taken a part of our soul with them.

In that case the unacceptable evil has fallen through the bottom of the sack and been lost, taking with it a part of the truth and a piece of the world.

A part of us dies in such an experience.

Those who have lived through limited evil are more easily able to imagine evil and war.

But extreme experiences of war or concentration camp often do not allow conscious realization and have to be compensated for by another extreme position, the extreme

If we study the horoscopes of a murderer and his victim we find that the victim has murdered himself. ~Carl Jung, Conversations with C.G. Jung, Pages 47-49.